Patrice Evra has claimed he played alongside at least two gay players at every team throughout his career in football and has lifted the lid on some of the shocking attitudes of his team-mates towards homosexuality.
In an interview with French publication Le Parisien to coincide with the release of his autobiography, Evra made some stunning revelations about some of the views he encountered.
‘When I was in England, they brought someone to talk to the team about homosexuality,’ Evra explained. ‘Some of my colleagues said “it is against my religion, if there is a homosexual in this locker room, let him leave the club” and other comments.
‘At that time, I said, “shut up”. I played with players who were gay. Face to face, they opened up with me because they are afraid to speak otherwise.
‘There are at least two players per club who are gay. But in the world of football, if you say so, it’s over.’
Evra didn’t clarify which English club he was playing for when the incident in question happened.
He played for Manchester United from 2006 until 2014 before leaving for Juventus. He returned to England and the Premier League in 2018, making a handful of appearances for West Ham before leaving in 2019.
He represented other major European sides such as Italian giants Juventus and French clubs Nice, Monaco and Marseille in his playing career. He also won 81 caps for France.
There are no openly gay footballers in the Premier League but clubs have worked to promote inclusivity with gestures such as the rainbow laces campaign.
It has received widespread acclaim across the league, including from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who explained how the initiative raised his level of awareness before his side’s match with Southampton in November on the rainbow laces weekend.
‘I’m a perfect example for it – how the awareness level changes,’ Klopp said. ‘I’m 54, I’ve been through a lot of periods in my life but a lot of problems I’ve never had.
‘I have so many gay friends but I never thought about how it was when they had to say, ‘by the way, mum, dad’ – and to everyone else – ‘I’m not exactly how you expected, maybe’.
“That’s a challenge we shouldn’t face, in the way we face it in our life. So I’m completely in. It’s a great campaign, I have to say, and it looks good!”
The world’s only openly gay footballer, Josh Cavallo who plays for Australian side Adelaide United, earlier this week called out homophobic abuse from the crowd in a game he was playing in against Melbourne Victory.
The day after the match, the 22-year-old took to Instagram to say: ‘I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night.
‘There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was. This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold people accountable.
‘I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.’